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graduate jobs + careers advice + sector news + case studies + employer profiles +

Section | topic

» Real World Awards Where are you headed? P.29

» Accountancy Brave the jungle P.32



» “We want to pay your tuition fees” P.08

living Make a life, not just a

% 100 SH E R F



Go from strength to strength Whether you’re a quick thinker, a good talker or a creative spark, it’s your individual strengths we’re interested in, not just what you’re studying. People who do what they’re naturally good at in their careers go further, faster, and have a more enjoyable time getting there. If you want to go from strength to strength, working in a team that helps our clients solve some of the most interesting challenges in business, then get in touch. We have graduate and undergraduate opportunities available now in Assurance, Tax, Corporate Finance and Advisory. Find out more at

© Ernst & Young 2011. Ernst & Young is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community. The UK firm Ernst & Young LLP is a limited liability partnership and a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

contents | what’s inside?

08 CONTENTS Editorial




The Interview Why pay to get a degree when someone else will


Case studies Graduate placements Management consultants: Who do they think they are?





Actuary Vs Gambler Seedy backrooms or city boardroms?


Professional services map Let us show you the way


How not to become an accountant 20 As your CV as bad as this? Maybe you need our experts’ advice What sort of consultant are you? Take the quiz and find out


Professional profiles: the consultants


Case studies Consultancy


Playing the game Do you know the rules of great job hunting? Reading the market Read these books to put your career on the right page




Where will a Real World Award take you? 29 The species of accountant 32 Gorilla, hawk or wolf, what sort of accountant are you Case studies Accountancy 34




Editorial | welcome

EDITOR’S LETTER Editorial Publisher: Johnny Rich Editor: Jon Madge Sub-editor: Jen Clark Writer-Researchers: Hannah Blake, Alex Lane, Alice Lewis, Hina Shahzad, Tom Storey

Sales Andrea Moretti

Marketing and Distribution Manager James Munday

GRAPHIC DESIGN Luke Merryweather

Client Services Manager Marie Tasle

Since we last took to the presses the graduate job market has steered its course, with some grads even welcoming the university fees rise because it could mean less competition for those prized careers in the years to come. But that’s all in the future, what is changing now is how employers relate their two most precious commodities: graduates and cash. Hazel Blears MP recently deplored the 18,000 hours a week of unpaid work interns do for Parliament as a way of keeping young people from poorer backgrounds for getting into parliament (full story page...NEWS). Whilst many graduates accept that unpaid internships are one of the prices they have to pay for their chosen career, Blears’ point applies to more than just politics. There are no means-tested loans to offset the cost of working for nothing for six months nor is there always the guarantee of a job at the end of it. Bucking this trend are the subject of this issue’s Big Interview: KPMG. The professional services firm seems to have made the unpopular decision that great graduates are worth investing in and they’re taking the risk to do that, paying them from day one and even inviting returning graduates back to the student life to get the skills KPMG need. I hope other firms copy KPMG in recognising that a degree is something that should be respected. I hope that unpaid internships see a decline in favour of early investment in graduate talent. But mostly I hope you enjoy another great issue of Real World. Our Professional Services issue is here. Jon, Editor

FOUNDER Darius Norell

Real World 22-26 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TJ Tel: 020 7735 4900 Copyright © 2011 Cherry Publishing. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher. We cannot accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs or for material lost or damaged in the post. The views in this publication or on our website are not necessarily those held by the publisher.

WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM Real World doesn’t end here, we’ve got more news, advice and exciting competitions on our website.


Make a life, not just a living At Real World we believe you should have a job that you want to get out of bed for. You should be doing something that’s going to inspire you, reward you and challenge you for the next 50 years. We help you do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do. We want to be the ones to tell you about the job opportunity that’ll change your life. And we want to help you to get that job and then succeed without limits. Real World is more than just a magazine. We’re leaders in graduate employment research. We train people how to raise their game. Everything we do is about helping you understand your career, kick-starting it and developing it. After all, apart from sleeping, you’ll spend more time working than doing anything else in your life. We want you to make a good living, but we also want you to make a good life in the process. No sugar-coating and no dry job jargon – Real World tells it like it is. Just the best facts, advice and opportunities.

Be ready for anything Whatever the future brings It’s virtually impossible to predict the future. But whatever it may be, it’s an actuaries job to help businesses prepare for it. Their highly valued skills and ability to assess risks are instrumental in helping organisations around the world plan for what may be around the corner.

Find out more at


„ Over 150 exhibitors with hundreds of graduate jobs plus some postgraduate course places „ Different exhibitors each day – attend both days

15 & 16 June 2011 10.30am–4.00pm

„ Free entry, free careers advice and free fair guide

The Armitage Centre, Manchester Organised by the Careers Service

GradRec_RealWorld_190x140.indd 1

In association with

Graduates from any university welcome

03/03/2011 11:26:01


news | what’s happening



After Will you find your next job on twitter? graduation, where are you going? There are few areas of life social media hasn’t dipped its toe into, and the trend is reaching job applicants. Social media has become a part of job hunting in a big way, from business networking websites like LinkedIn to employers checking out future employees on Facebook. Now York St John University has taken the process a step further with an experiment on Twitter aimed at graduate job-seekers. The experiment uses hashtags (flagged-up posts on a common topic) to make graduates easily searchable to employers. Graduates

add “#gradjobseeker” to the beginning of a message that describes them and where they want to work. Employers can then view all of these ‘mini CVs’ with just a click of a button, hopefully leading to better job opportunities for all. Being Twitter, graduates would be limited to 140 characters per post - a challenge for fans of the lengthy CV.

Cambridge pair launch walking tours to meet the costs of study Finding ways to pay those niggling bills and meet your living costs while writing a dissertation or finding your feet on a masters course is always a bit of a juggling act. Living on leftover beans is hardly ideal, but you also don’t want your CV to suffer when earning much-needed cash takes the focus off your studies. A duo from Cambridge have hit upon a solution to this dilemma and launched a walking tour of their city and neighbouring Oxford. Oxbridge Tours, as the company is known, was set up to give students a chance to earn some cash and also develop some great skills leading tours of the university cities. Who better to give a tour that includes the sites of the invention of the computer and the discovery of DNA than the next generation of engineers, medics or


cultural whizzkids? “We wanted to give something back to Cambridge by showing visitors what a fantastic place this is to study in,” said Andrey Pronin, Director of Oxbridge Tours. Fellow founder and the company’s CEO, Christopher Dobbing added, “It’s really important to us that fellow students are able to meet the costs of studying and also meet their academic commitments. We restrict our guides to four hours per week during term time.”

Over the last ten years, new graduates have been setting a trend for flocking to the South East in search of jobs after shelving their textbooks. However, according to a report published by think tank The Work Foundation, graduates are now more likely to stay put after graduation. The report suggests that a lack of money in the public sector has put a damper on graduates’ mobility. As a result, more graduates are kept in areas such as Wales, North England and the Midlands. For example, between 2001 and 2009 the number of graduates opting to stay in Wales after university increased, compared to a decrease in London over the same period. This new pattern has developed against a background of a decrease of 90,000 young people in employment in the last quarter. Commenting on the report, Ian Brinkley, director of socio-economic programmes at the Work Foundation, said “Young people’s employment will not recover significantly until employers start hiring them again in significant numbers and that depends on the overall state of the economy. The government needs to look again at encouraging more apprenticeships and paid intern placements.”

of UK graduates move away from their place of residence to get a job. Source: Cutting the Apron Strings? The Clustering of Young Graduates and the Role of the Public Sector published by the Work Foundation

news | what’s happening


Are apprenticeships the new degrees?

of employers pay their interns less than the national minimum wage or not at all. Source: Internships: to pay or not to pay? Published by the CIPD

Time for interns to get paid? The ever-returning issue of internships has reared its head again in recent weeks, re-posing the question of whether paying interns should become normal practice. A report published last year by the CIPD showed the percentage of companies taking on interns rose from 13% to over 20%. Half of those paid their interns the national minimum wage. But paid internships are still far from common. In Parliament, for example, unpaid interns put in an estimated 18,000 hours a week, a figure that helps explain Labour MP Hazel Blears’ recent criticism of unpaid internships in Parliament as a barrier to politics for poorer graduates and those who live outside London.

Correction: In an article in the last issue of Real World, on the NUS Graduate Extra card, we said it only costs £11. In fact the card is £30, which is still a great deal for all the money it saves you on meals out, nightlife and other essentials.

Her comments came in the same week as a Conservative party fundraiser was criticised for auctioning off prestigious internships for as much as £14,000. Internships are in demand, particularly in the competitive world of politics. But is it fair to expect graduates to work for free in return for experience? Chris Winstanley, head of marketing for website designers Basekit, put forward the argument for smaller businesses. He described internships as “An effective way to low-cost recruitment. As internships are often unpaid, they are cost-effective resources, who often place themselves in the pipeline of permanent employees by showing drive and understanding.”

Studying for an apprenticeship? If not, maybe you should be. According to City & Guilds, the vocational awarding organisation, apprentices are more likely to be employed than graduates. Recent research found that out of more than 500 employers, 89% consider that for the next two years apprentices could be the key ingredient to their businesses’ success. Apprenticeships have become an extremely competitive market as vocational education is fast becoming the new way to learn and earn, due to an extra £1.4 billion in funding available from the Government. Figures released last month by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment amongst young people in the UK rose from 32,000 to 951,000, the highest it has been in over 20 years. The extra funding will allow businesses to run apprenticeship schemes, in the light of these increasing levels of unemployment. A particular emphasis has been placed on the South West as their extra funding will secure an additional 10,000 apprenticeship places per year until 2015.

Go to for all the latest graduate news including: • •

What the latest budget means for graduate jobs The rise of the international student




Section | TOPIC

The INTERVIEW: simon hayden jones




interview | cash for qualifications

Simon Haydn-Jones is an Auditor by training and practice, but last summer he was asked to get involved with KPMG’s school-leaver scheme. He revealed to us why now’s the time for this programme and how it will change the industry forever. KPMG’s school-leaver scheme has left the conventional mould of how a degree leads to a job smashed to pieces. They’ve combined a degree, work experience and a professional qualification into one, thrown in a year of full time, on-campus study and then offered to pay 75 students and graduates for the whole thing. But how will this scheme, which begins its pilot run this summer, change things for existing graduates and for their prospects with other firms in the industry? The original idea was to try to combine a university qualification with a professional qualification,” Explains Simon Haydn-Jones. “We always thought that the most innovative thing we could do in that space was to have students employed by us from day one. The only way that would have worked would be for us to pay for it and have it structured in such a way as to make it absolutely compelling for someone to be involved in.” But why pay students to study? It’s likely lots of them would do it anyway and this way the company has to back their horses from the off. “The last thing that we want is people coming on to the scheme and hating it or completing a qualification with us over a six year period and then leaving. It’s completely in our interests to make this an exciting scheme and that’s what motivated us to pay for the tuition fees and meet the costs of this part of higher education.” It’s certainly a bold move, at a time when most companies are enjoying the benefits of having more graduates than jobs, and the opportunity to pick and choose who they hire. “The motivation behind the scheme is change,” counters Simon, “one of the things we’re always challenging people to come up with is new ideas about the way we do business and this idea does that.” “Statistics show that graduate employment at the moment is at its lowest level for 15-16 years. So last summer we spoke to a large number of students with the proposition of this scheme and asked them what they thought of it. Funnily enough, a huge amount of detail of the scheme has been shaped by what people told us last summer.” He describes this as a win-win; the company gets trainees early on and the graduates get to avoid those crippling student debts. But aren’t KPMG worried about alienating or losing out on the graduate talent out there? “Like all the big four, in the past we’ve recruited mainly graduates and graduates will remain a very important part of our recruitment strategy.” KPMG aren’t, he stresses, looking to

stop recruiting graduates. Rather they want to add to them “If we got to a position of having 100% of our uptake being school-leavers on our accountancy degree, that isn’t right, equally if we don’t have school-leavers that’s not right either.” Despite the name, the scheme isn’t restricted to school-leavers and Simon fully expects existing graduates to take advantage of it. “The scheme is open to absolutely everybody. We haven’t got the critical mass to make the scheme different for people with a degree or different joining qualifications.” “If you want to come on to our scheme, you join with everybody else and it’s exactly the same whether you’ve a year or a full three years at university or not. The only requirements are that you pass the interview and that you have an A and two Bs at A-level and you must have GCSE Maths and English at grade B minimum. This is definitely not just restricted to year thirteen school leavers.” The specifics of the scheme are that it takes six years, in which the students will get a degree, have a full year on campus living university life and become a chartered accountant. Hopefully at this point they’ll start working for KPMG with no pesky student loans in the bank. All of which seems a fantastic deal for the budding accountant, but Simon is clear that this isn’t charity, “Students on the course will work for us in periods. This will be challenging and so we want people to go into it with their eyes open. They’ll be balancing work experience with periods of studying at university and periods of studying for their professional qualification.” Critics of what KPMG are offering might well point at the dubiousness of a company offering a degree. What, after all, does KPMG know about teaching methods or academic standards? “We absolutely don’t purport to be experts in designing courses, but we do recruit thousands of people each year for training contracts,” Simon argues. “You could say we’re experts in managing a student population who’s studying. But we’ve enlisted the help of a top university and one of the major accountancy bodies, the ICAEW, to design the course without making any compromises.” “Durham University have worked hard with us to offer something that’s as robust as any other degree they offer and we’ve not made any compromises on the quality of the education. The number of credits will be the same, the nature and the breadth of the qualification will be the same. It’s just that it’s structured slightly differently.” The scheme certainly looks to be an interesting experiment. Simon acknowledges that the first year will probably teach the organisers as much as the graduates. Regardless of the uncertainties, however, he believes that this scheme will encourage more like it and that will fundamentally redefine the face of the graduate job. “I genuinely believe we’ve got something here that could change the world. And I hope that others follow because this will help preserve higher education for all.”




interview | cash for qualifications

...who else? KPMG are redefining how they get graduates but they’re not the only people offering a good deal to get your degree or to get you a degree. Whether you want to start again with someone else footing the bill or let that degree start paying its way, here’s the quick glance guide to what’s on offer.

Ernst & Young


Ernst & Young and the University of Lancaster Management School created the ‘EY Degree’. It’s an accountancy degree which has been built in collaboration with The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS). The course runs for four years and ends in a BSc (Hons) in Accounting, Auditing and Finance. During their four years, students on the scheme get 18 months of work experience at various Ernst & Young offices throughout the UK. Ernst & Young also offer bursaries to students to help with the cost of books and bottles. Ernst & Young promise their programme offers students “a much faster progression rate into the direction of their careers than their peers. Once complete, the student will obtain professional exam passes as well as their degree.” Students on the scheme often get job offers in their third year.

Deloitte’s Scholar Scheme offers school-leavers the chance to do 30 weeks of paid work experience with the company. They’re then given a £1,500 bursary to travel the world. Upon their return they are given another £1,500 a year at university, provided they return to Deloitte for four weeks of paid placements during their summer. And at the end, there’s no obligation to work for the company. Graduates at Deloitte can work in four industry sectors; audit, tax, consulting or corporate finance. The standard Graduate scheme involves studying towards a Chartered Accountancy qualification (ACA) or equivalent combined with work experience and training. They take in 1100 graduates every year and also offer ‘Insight Days’, industrial placements and summer work experience.



KPMG has developed a degree programme with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Durham University. The scheme is targeted at school leavers but open to everyone with the right A-levels. They plan to take on 75 students for the Durham scheme and have revealed that they’ll also be working with Exeter and Birmingham, taking on 40 students at each university. The programme covers six years; four years of the degree period and two years of work experience. Make it through the scheme and you get a professional chartered accountancy qualification from ICAEW, a BSc in Accounting, tuition fees paid by KPMG and a starting salary of £20,000. KPMG also offer graduate schemes in audit, tax and advisory sectors. Placements range from nine months to one year and it’s not uncommon for training contracts to follow.

PwC runs the Flying Start Degree programme with Newcastle University Business School and the ICAEW. Participants are offered the opportunity to study towards a BA Honours in Business Accounting and Finance along with paid work placements at PwC and the chance of fast-tracking to the ICAEW’s ACA qualification. The programme takes four years plus a further year to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. PwC offers two different ways for graduates to join them. The first takes three years and lets candidates join the assurance, tax or financial advisory sections of the firm and study with their local Institute of Chartered Accountants. The other, their ‘specialist joining route’ is for those that want to join the actuarial sector of PwC and study with the Institute.


real life stories | Accountancy

Juliet Fowler has a BA (Hons) in Business and International Management from Oxford Brookes University. She’s now a Managing Consultant for IBM Global Business Services UK & Ireland. She’s part of the Strategy and Transformation service line within GBS.

Nicola Day completed a six week paid Summer Internship with PwC in 2007, based in their Newcastle office. She graduated with a degree in Economics from Newcastle University in 2008 but deferred working at the company until April 2009 so she could go travelling. She started working in assurance in PwC’s Leeds office in April 2009. I was quite proactive in securing an internship place while I was at university. It was lucky that I had been, as unfortunately the credit crunch hit just after I’d completed my placement and that created lots of uncertainty for university students looking for employment. It was great to have a job secured during my third year, ready to start once I graduated. It meant that I could concentrate on my degree and enjoy the rest of my time there,

What do I do? I advise clients on complex business problems from a strategy, organisation and people perspective. I manage the business change aspects of transformational projects and large scale systems implementations. I was a marketing intern at IBM during my third year at University and, after that applied to the IBM Graduate Consulting Programme. Six years of humility, hard work and a lot of learning, passion, determination and flexibility is how I’ve got to where I am today. The best part about my job is the people, the opportunities and the variation. There’s also nothing better than seeing your clients succeed as a result of the work that you’ve done. There are downsides, like living out of a bag most of the time. After 6 years I still can’t pack lightly. Graduates interested in consultancy should be flexible and be prepared to be mobile. Make the most of every opportunity. Don’t underestimate the power of your network and invest time in building it, as it is your colleagues and friends that will help you develop, progress and provide support when you most need it.

Also, while I was travelling after uni, I met a few people my age who had found it difficult to secure a graduate job after the job market changed, so had decided to get away from it all until things had settled down. I’d definitely recommend internship schemes to other undergraduates. During my internship I was treated like a first year graduate and I got to work directly with clients in a variety of areas, which was a good experience and a fair reflection of what it’s like to work in the role.




consultancy | what do they do?


WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE? THEY’RE THE GRADUATES WHO THINK THEY CAN TELL EXPERTS HOW TO DO THEIR JOBS. AND YOU KNOW WHAT, THEY CAN. Company A think they’re doing everything right. However, revenues are down, the competitors are gaining the edge and the big wigs are at their wits’ end. Enter the management consultant. If the idea of telling a bunch of industry heavyweights why they’re doing their job wrong doesn’t send you flying for cover then this might be the profession for you. But just how does a fresh-faced graduate get that kind of gig?

If you weren’t the right person to advise a company then you wouldn’t be there

Getting the job Part of the reason management consultants can feel confident that they’re the right person to advise a company is that if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have the job. The entry requirements for management consultancy positions are high (a 2:1 is the minimum), but the real clincher is specialist knowledge. Having a PhD, MBA or master’s degree means you’ve studied something that most people haven’t. If a law firm is great at litigation but not so great at managing their business then a management consultant can, for a while, be their MBA for hire, offering the benefits of their expertise. These qualifications are so useful to management consultancies that some firms will sponsor their best candidates to study for them. However, having a few extra letters after your name isn’t essential for this job. They’re just good indicators that you’ve spent time learning to think differently. What counts is a unique perspective, and graduates from engineering, science and accounting disciplines tend to have the kind of analytical mindset consultancy firms want.

Being an expert In the arsenal of a management consultant, industry expertise should sit right next to the ability to think in


interesting new ways. One allows you to see where a company is going wrong but without the other, you may never be able to communicate those insights to your client. Sound knowledge of a particular industry or sector won’t just stand you in good stead in your job, it could well get you the job in the first place. Internships and work experience are tried and tested ways of getting inside an industry and seeing how it all fits together. And, in a job where formal training for new starters is uncommon, your experience will help you hit the ground running.

Who do they think they are? The reason management consultants are in a position to tell CEOs and heads of industry how to run their own businesses is that their job is to challenge the status quo. People in this job are prepared to come up with new ideas and apply them to other people’s organisations, and they pass on what they’ve learnt to each new business. If you think you’re up to the grade, beautifully crafted CV in hand, then making a career of being right all the time might be calling.

Vital statistics

A 2:1 degree or higher is a must to get into the industry. ÂŁ30,000 is a typical starting salary for a management consultant

That number has gone up every year since 2000

More than half a million people in the UK are employed in management consultancy

consultancy | what do they do?




real life stories | graduate placements

Sean Rooney is a graduate trainee with Capita Hartshead Actuarial and Consultancy Services. He graduated from Newcastle University.

Mengnan Zhang is part of ‘Foundation’, the IBM Graduate programme. She works as an IT Consultant within IBM Global Business Services as well as currently studying for a Masters in Media and Communications at City University, London. There are several factors that attracted me to pursuing a career in consultancy but some of the main drivers were the vast variety of the field, the possibility to travel between different client sites, the fact that you’re not bound to a specific location or the “normal” working hours and the chance to interact with different people. IBM has offered a great start to my consultancy career and I have been very happy with my decision to join the company’s graduate programme. The training provided is vast and informative. With IBM there is also the possibility for me to travel with work not only within the UK but also worldwide and to be able to experience other cultures has always been close to my heart. For me though, one of the most exciting possibilities and benefits working with IBM provides is the added flexibility to my life. The company emphasises and appreciates the importance of a good worklife balance and hence offers its people the ability to work with added flexibility. For instance, as I travel a lot with work I usually work from home once a week. The best part of my job must be the opportunity to work closely with very talented individuals within the team and to be in a very client- facing role within the team. It’s extremely satisfying to see the end result of the team’s hard work. You have to do your research well on the company you want to join, make note of the deadlines for the application processes, prepare and enjoy the assessment centres as it’s given me a wealth of experience. Individuals who are hard-working, willing to learn new skills and knowledge and not shy of new challenges will enjoy a career in technology consultancy where having the right people skills and an appetite for new experiences is important.


I applied for a graduate trainee position with Capita Hartshead because they’re a major player in the pensions management market. As early as my interview I asked about gaining actuarial experience. Although my appointment was primarily for a graduate pension management role in Sheffield, the company very quickly allowed me to have a placement in the actuarial division in London. My placement’s allowed me to develop my interpersonal and general business skills, whilst maintaining my interest in statistics and economics. The appeal of training as an actuary was the diverse environments I could work in, not just pensions and insurance but investment and consultancy too. During my placement I worked from eight thirty to five o’clock, however after speaking with some of the current Actuarial Trainees, I gather that it is not uncommon to have a few late evenings a month to meet client deadlines at busy times. On top of this there is the need to study for the actuarial exams, so I understand it will be a demanding and challenging career. However, I am sure, in the longer term, the benefits will outweigh the time committed.”

Section | topic

A day in the life



Actuary, it’s a respectable profession with a good name and decent wage. Professional gambler on the other hand, carries connotations of seedy bars and smoke-stained betting shops. But, despite the salary and what they wear to work, are the two professions really that different?




inside careers | what actually is an actuary


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inside careers | what actually is an actuary

8:00am Get up. 9:00am Sit down to the Racing Post (ove r breakfast) and check how the form has changed since last night. I check a few websites for the latest tips to see if there are any good long bets to be made. 11:00am I’m making some bets on ‘field horses’, because I hear there’s good money to be made there. I usua lly bet each way so I have a drink with a friend with a bit more experience to see if I can get a few tips to help me branch out without losing a packet. 2:00pm I skip lunch and head straight over to the racetrack. My heart skips a good few beats as I'm not doing too well on a couple of horses today. Dam n this new system I'm trying. 6:00pm Driving home from the racetrack , I can't believe how bad my luck's been today. 8:00

pm Start working out who I should be follo wing in tomorrow’s races. Coming up with my short list means looki ng at their form and performance in previous races. I watch TV recordings of old races and make notes on anything that I think is important to the performan ce. I phone round a few friends to see if they have any inside knowledge or have heard anything I haven’t about a particular horse. Tomorrow had better be a good day because I’m down quite a bit after what happened this afternoon .








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Station river grad



Woodland Swamp /bog


accountancy | getting the job

We ask the experts:


Don’t send out mass emails or letters, tailor them to the company you’re applying to. Make each letter, CV or application form bespoke to that employer”

Sell yourself. Remember, your CV is essentially marketing you so don’t be tempted to use clichéd phrases. Say something unique about you that will make the reader want to find out more.

But don’t oversell, it’s absolutely essential that all of the information you provide is accurate as it will be checked rigorously.

Convey your suitability for the role and the company. Consider how your CV can get across how you fit the values of the company you apply to, perhaps by highlighting achievements.


Ed Hussey is Director of Human Resources at the professional services company Menzies.

Attention to detail is crucial, right from the point you read the job advert. It’s such a comp etitive market th at not answering specific questions in the advert or highlighting certain criteria an employer wa nts to see will rule you out. Keep it really full clear, packed ffle. a w of facts not ld Every line shou d contain a har of fact or pi ece ut information abo e som ething th done. candidate has Accountancy sector employers, large and small, are looking for a complete package that has potential, so don’t leave out or talk down even the most basic experience. You stand a better chance by saying you’ve done a little of something relevant than by not mentioning it at all.

Simple things are very important, like constructing sentences correctly. We are looking for people who can relate to and communicate Andrew Leck is head of ACCA (Association with clients.

of Chartered Certified Accountants) UK.

accountancy | getting the job

Richard Irwin is Head of Student Recruitment at professional services company PwC.

Accountancy is a relationship business and we’re looking at CVs that show the applicant is a relationship person. The CVs that stand out are those that show they have taken it upon themselves to be members of clubs or societies.

Shaun Robertson is Head of Learning at the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales).

Keep focused. Don’t give reams of information on jobs that you did years ago, especially if they don’t back up your credentials for the role. Overall the CV should ideally cover no more than two pages and never more than three. Describe a part time job in terms of skills and achievements, don’t write a detailed job description.

Don’t simply list your qualifications as these will be similar to other undergraduates. If you don’t tell them the skills you have then employers simply won’t know.”

There are more great CV and covering letter tips on our website, including our covering letter masterclass. Read it on:




consultancy | what sort are you?



Never mind painstaking years of climbing the ladder, as a consultant you can be on the top floor on day one, telling the boss how things are done. Of course, this is because consultants train hard to be experts in their field. But which of those fields is right for you?


a a problem solver, who’d rather say the worst than let everyone else ignore it? b the person who has all the answers, even when the questions are about things that haven’t happened yet? c a maths wizard who knows that the numbers never lie? d so up to date with the latest computer hardware, you could take it apart in your sleep? DO YOU FEEL MOST AT HOME …

a when you’re meeting new people and finding out what they do? b when you’re making plans for six months time? c with a copy of the Financial Times and a stockbroker on speed-dial? d with test tubes, java script and a pad of graph paper?


a in the biggest office in the building, with the most important people there listening to you?

b in a different town, city or country from one week to the next?

c primarily on Excel? d in your office, where you know where everything is and there’s your favourite tea in the kitchen? THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN A COMPANY…

a is at the top of the food chain, it’s them that makes the decisions after all

b different depending on what you’re doing and you have to understand this to understand how the company works c is whoever makes the profits go up and the costs go down, it’s as simple as that d can guarantee that everything will work, when it needs to and in the way it should. MONEY IS FOR…

a making and spending wisely, doesn’t matter whether it’s yours or someone else’s

b investing now for a good return later c keeping a careful track of; if you don’t know where every penny’s going then it might as well be wasted d spending on new equipment that will work faster, better and longer


consultancy | what sort are you?



d c b a Mostly C

–you’re a technology consultant

Mostly C

–you’re a financial consultant

Mostly B

– you’re a strategy consultant

Mostly A

– you’re a management consultant

You’re the decision maker’s decision maker. You know that if things are run properly, and everyone knows what they should be doing then everything can’t help but run smoothly. You’re in for long working days with great rewards and a steep learning curve.

You’re all about the long game. As far as you’re concerned, tomorrow is more important than today and next year even more so. You’ll need to be a quick learner to turn your hand to different companies and different ways of doing things but if you follow this career path you can look forward to international travel and a good wage.

You’re marketfocused and moneydriven. You know the companies run on money and that the better you can help them manage theirs, the better they’ll perform. It’s a flexible career but you’ll need to keep up to date with all the latest financial news.

You’re a whizz at anything with wires or flashing lights. You can use one machine to let one person do a ten man job or a simple computer programme to maximise a company’s profits. Technology consultants have to be up to date with all the latest technological or computer advances. The pay isn’t as high as for some other consultants but you get a far more reliable working week and the satisfaction of being an expert.



professional profiles | from the horse’s mouth


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In e n d e th e ta s th n in ith focu Accou merging w re people ere’s of Wellers much mo company w years; th fe te ia st c la o e ss a th be ed a lot in ement to It’s chang ore requir m , n o ti la more regu Hayley North 24 RW WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM

real life stories | consultancy

Rebecca O’Reilly graduated from the University of Waterloo in Canada with a BA (Hons) in History and Fine Art. She also has a Masters of Art in History from the University of Guelph and a B.Ed from the University of Western Ontario.

Consultants are at the centre of the growth at the moment. We’re arguably growing faster than any other organisation in our industry, and are enjoying massive demand from clients. For a graduate joining the industry that’s a no-brainer. The support and training that I have received has really been outstanding, and I don’t say that lightly. Throughout the graduate programme, Subject Matter Experts with real life experience in Financial Services led engaging and interactive discussions providing a background on the theoretical concepts, nicely balanced with debate and discussion on the challenges they help our clients tackle. Learning about the practice of consultancy and developing a range of skills and abilities also gave us the confidence to tackle meaningful projects and contribute from the first day, so we could get stuck in a make a difference, not get locked into a classroom and locked out from any client interaction for weeks on end. My job is different on almost a daily basis. Problem solving is a main focus each day and this keeps the job fresh, being able to tackle new challenges, thinking logically and critically. I’ve worked steadily on a project within a major bank and have been given the opportunity to travel both within the UK and to cities in Europe. I’ve worked one on one with very senior level clients on site and I never expected I’d be given that kind of opportunity or exposure this early on in my career. I have felt supported by the team through some important meetings that I have held independently and which ended very positively.

For more real life graduate stories go online to

Tom Birtwhistle has a degree in International Management and American Business at the University of Manchester. In 2009 he became an associate in the management consultancy division of PwC. During the summer of my third year I did an internship with a consultancy specialising in leadership and development, which confirmed to me that consulting was the industry I wanted to get into. Despite that internship, when I left university, I was still very raw and wanted to join a firm where I could develop the practical capabilities you need in the workplace. PwC Consulting’s graduate programme gave me a good grounding in core consulting skills, programme and project management, as well as tools and practices specific to the company. Since then I’ve worked on a variety of projects from supporting the design of profit and loss processes at a global investment bank to benchmarking back-office services for a large public sector client. I’m constantly meeting new people, so it’s impossible to get bored. And I’ve been struck by how quickly you can take on more responsibility. So long as you apply yourself and deliver quality work, the level of your involvement needn’t be restricted by your grade.




the job market | they want you

PLAYING THE GAME It might seem like now is the worst time to be a graduate hunting for jobs. But the truth is that employers need you just as much as you need them. By learning to recognise the rules of the jobs market, you can get that ideal job and secure yourself a good deal in the process.


Having a good hand and knowing what you need to get are important but it’s also crucial to be aware of new opportunities. “When you’ve identified some possible career routes that interest you, keep an eye out for experiences and opportunities in that sector,” explain Rachel and Judith. Try to take as many of those opportunities as you can. They’ll build up into a brilliant CV and you can cash that in for that ideal job. “Everything counts from volunteering and part-time work to training schemes. Setbacks do happen, so stay positive, accept them and learn from them.”



How do you choose which career is right for you? Are you an engineer in the workshop with the lead piping or a teacher in the library with the candlestick? Deciding which path’s right for you shouldn’t be a snap decision. “A good career plan starts by considering and gradually narrowing down your options,” add Rachel and Judith. Like a master detective, you need to rule out the impossible, the unfulfilling and the jobs that just don’t feel right before you get to the perfect one. “Your strengths, interests and circumstances are unique, so begin by identifying these,” suggest Rachel and Judith, “Take some time to seriously reflect on yourself. What are you good at? What have you achieved that you’re proud of? What mistakes have you made and what would you do differently in the same situation?”

Cluedo is a registered trademark of Hasbro

the job market | they want you




Like a game of chess, knowing exactly where all your pieces are is the key to making the graduate job market work in your favour. Your pieces in this game are the skills, competencies and contacts you’ve made or will make that employers want. As Judith Done and Rachel Mulvey, authors of the Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook, explain, “these are more important than which job you start off in as they give you the option to move into a job that rewards and inspires you.” “The beauty of competencies is that they stick with you and snowball. Your first job on graduation needn’t be for life. It’s there for you to test out your skills, pick up know-how employers value.” You won’t close too many doors in your first years after graduation, so you can try things out and see what suits you.

COMPETITION TIME Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook by Judith Done & Rachel Mulvey is out now, published by Prentice Hall. To win one of five copies, just answer the following question:

“What’s the most useful skill for deepening insight into yourself?” Email your answer, with Real World Competition as the subject, to



career tips | going by the book

READING THE MARKET BOOKS THAT WILL GET YOU A GREAT JOB. One sure fire sign of a difficult job market is people without jobs start writing books about how to get them. We’ve sorted through the best and worst to bring your our pick of what you should read to find a job, get one or start a business.

Loan Sharp Rob Warlow The job market’s too competitive, you don’t want to go back to studying and you burn too easily for a gap year to be an option, then why not set up your own business? Loan Sharp is a guide to getting to everything you need to get the money for a business venture, which is pretty much everything except having the idea. It covers business plans, keeping track of your finances and what to do if things start going wrong. Money is a serious business so Loan Sharp doesn’t make for great bed time reading. It does, however, do the job and is an easy to read and accessible guide to anything the entrepreneurial graduates would want to know.

The career itch: 4 steps for taking control of what you do next Grace Owen ‘The Career Itch’ is aimed at those who want to get a new career but its advice is a lot more useful to graduates just entering the jobs market. The emphasis of the book is on getting to know yourself, so you can figure out exactly what it is you want to do, then doing that. Each chapter ends with a task to put the author’s advice into action. Other useful touches include a guide to other helpful resources in developing a career. At times, this book reads like one of the less-helpful kinds of self help manual, and the real life examples it uses can seem overly simplistic, but behind all of that are some good insights for anyone that doesn’t quite know what their calling in life is.

To win a copy of all the books reviewed here, go to


Job interview success: Get the Job You Really Want be your own coach James Caan Jenny Rogers “For all its appearance of rationality and seriousness, choices on both sides of the interviewing table are made on the basis of emotion later justified on rational grounds,” writes Jenny Rogers. That’s the basis behind this book, which seeks to explain how you can harness that emotion and use it to get you the job you want. If you more for your money than to be told to dress well and rehearse their answers, then this book is probably for you. It combines easy-to-grasp psychology with some secrets from behind the scenes to let the reader in on what’s really being asked in a job interview. Chapters cover everything from managing nerves to assessment centres and body language. A lot of the advice it recommends will take time to practice and perfect, so an investment in this book is worth it even if no interviews are looming on the horizon.

Get the Job You Really Want, the new book from Dragon’s Den ‘Dragon’ James Caan, does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s simple and easy to read with chapters, ranging from Positivity and Performance to Pleasure and Perseverance. The book’s main point is to move people away from the idea that a good CV is all that matters. Examples from Caan’s business career show that often the best candidate doesn’t have the best résumé and he delivers this in a way that’s both digestible and not patronising. The book also offers ‘The JC Twist’; his hints and tips on job hunting and interviews. ‘Get The Job You Really Want’ is perfect for those looking to join the nationwide search for a graduate job and gives insight into what employers really want from you. With a long and proven background in recruitment who better than James Caan to help you “rethink the traditional, formulaic approach to job hunting”?

Gap year | Bridge Section or chasm? | topic

There’s a big gala award ceremony, exciting prize money and the chance to hobnob with some of the finest graduates and business people in the land, but what good will a Real World Award do for you? We caught up with some of the most interesting winners in the seven year history of the Awards to see how it changed their lives.



Amy Gackowska Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2009 Nominee WWW.REALWORLDMAGAZINE.COM RW




real world awards | what will your story be?

Don’t hold back, try and do as much as you can Amy Gackowska

Amy Gackowska was nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009. Whilst studying at the University of Liverpool, she was self-employed as a dance teacher. She describes the awards as a great opportunity to meet other graduate and student entrepreneurs and find out about their ideas. “I really enjoyed the ceremony,” she told us, “it was great to find out what other students have been doing”. “Since the awards I have carried on with my business. I’m still working as a dance teacher, teaching everyone from one year olds to infants and adults”. Amy’s also expanded her business and is now a personal tutor in maths and science. She says the awards helped her to feel she could run her own business, “it was a big confidence boost.” Amy’s advice to entrants to this year’s Real World awards is, “don’t hold back; don’t be shy, like I was. Try and do as much as you can, everything is relevant, even if you’re only in a football team.”

Sean Nuzum was a winner of the UK Student of the Year Award in 2008. Following this success, Sean set his goals on helping others to achieve more out of life and believes he is able to achieve this by using business. He says he is “always keen to network with entrepreneurs, CEO’s and business people”. Currently, Sean is using technology and the internet in order to help the growth of organisations. He is currently undertaking business ventures within the cycling industry by developing GPS trackers for cycles. Sean says that the award “is a brilliant thing to talk about at job interviews” therefore is definitely an opportunity not to be missed.

Kyle Clarke was a finalist in the 2009 Graduate of the Year Award. After the awards he launched a successful, if slightly odd, online campaign to find a job. From the website, he asked others to suggest, promote and introduce him to companies to not just find him a job but to find what job he wanted to do. He says the Real World Awards have “helped me get out there and gain confidence in my abilities.” This confidence lead to his online employment quest and recently it paid off. Kyle is now the Digital Marketing Manager for The Knowledge Labs, a ‘not-just-for-profit’ product development group that focuses on “creating better business leaders.” Speaking to entrants to this year’s Awards, Kyle advises, “Just do you best and stand out from the crowd”.

Conall Watson was the winner of the Real World Award in 2004.

The awards give you the confidence to do things, to put your hand up and volunteer Connal Watson


He won the award for his work as the Students’ Union Environment and Social Justice Officer. This included setting up the first Ethical Careers Fair, an ethical alternative to the traditional milkround, as part of the university One World Fair which he also organised. In the summer between years, Conall worked at a Tibetan refugee hospital in northern India. Conall told us what he’s up to now, “At the moment I’m working for the health protection agency. I’ve taken a circuitous route into public health. It’s aligned to community and social justice and those sorts of aspects, a bit more in touch with campaigning.” What effect does he think the awards had on his career path? “I think a lot of what the awards give you is the confidence to do things, to put your hand up and volunteer. Things don’t happen unless you make them.” Speaking to this year’s entrants, Conall advises, “Make the most of your time doing things that aren’t necessarily part of your course; organising campus life, societies, make the most of any opportunities you get.”

real world awards | what will your story be?

Laura Sterling was the winner of the Socially Responsible Student of the Year Award in 2008. Since then she has completed a Masters degree in Youth Work and is currently working as a support worker for 16-18 year olds. She was nominated for the award for her work with young people and says it helped her to get onto her Masters degree course, which lead to her getting a job in the industry she’s always wanted to work in. When asked what she remembers most about the Awards, she says it was the Question and Answer session before the winners were announced. “It was a great opportunity to meet and talk to people from different backgrounds.” Laura also enjoyed the networking opportunities the ceremony offered and thinks that aided her success. She advises this year’s entrants to make the most of it if they’re invited. “The Awards are a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people, so network as much as possible”.

The Awards are a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people, network as much as possible Laura Sterling

Chris Skilton was the winner of the Socially Responsible Student of the Year Award in 2008. He used the £2,250 prize money to set up CEDIS, a community empowerment initiative in rural Ghana. Chris started the company, which helps local people create businesses through micro credit, three years ago following the award of the prize and struggled through red tape for years until he could finally launch in August 2009. So far CEDIS has supported 600 people in their efforts to grow their own small scale businesses. They also help fund the creative industries in rural Ghana and the project is on the verge of securing large scale investment which will allow them to expand their operations and help many more Ghanaians climb out of poverty. Chris also runs a program called Ghana Volunteers/Sri Lanka Volunteers which sends recent graduates over to Ghana or Sri Lanka to work on charitable projects. Chris’ advice for future winners of the Real World Awards is to understand the “value of patience and hard work” and that their “vision must be really exciting and powerful” so that they can get people to believe in it. Speaking about the Awards ceremony, Chris recalls being very nervous, “but I also felt very welcome and had some fascinating conversations with other nominees and the staff of Real World”. Upon winning he was overcome by an immense “feeling of pride and gratitude for the money”. The next day he flew to Ghana to start setting up CEDIS.

Tom Webster was a finalist in the 2009 Graduate of the Year Awards. He has since been working in a consultancy firm which specialises in marketing and is currently in the process of setting up his own consultancy company based upon the proposal he put forward for the Awards. He remembers the Awards ceremony as a “brilliant night and a brilliant award”. Tom believes that the awards are a wonderful way to “foster creativity amongst undergraduates” and help them to develop business ideas and professional skills, just as he did. Tom’s advice for future winners of the award is to try and “talk to as many people as possible to gain opinions and help as much as possible” and to remember the value of “perseverance”, to believe in themselves and their ideas and not to give up when they are confronted with inevitable obstacles.

Feeling inspired? You could be the next Real World Awards winner with a great story to tell. For details on entering go to





accountancy | job-spotting

The Species of Accountant An illustrated introduction to the different jobs and characteristics of the accounting world.

Forensic Accountant

The hawk -

accipiter cooperii Distinguishing marks: High salary and lots of responsibility

Hawks have a keen eye and they can spot something that’s not right from a mile off. They often work with police and lawyers, to identify fraud or illegal practices, or in specialist departments within larger firms to prevent fraud. A hawk has an expert knowledge of good accounting practice but also has to be able to think creatively, to envisage new scenarios from a number of perspectives. Hawks can often be found working closely with clients, making use of their well-developed communication skills. Despite these skills they often work alone and in regularly-changing locations.

Chameleons are responsible for keeping an organisation’s debts, credits and stocks at an acceptable level and letting outsider know what a company or organisation is doing. They do this by painstakingly building a financial report, the preparation of which is the chameleon’s specialty. They need to be able to communicate with professionals and non-professionals at all levels, so they can seamlessly fit into any surroundings. Chameleons need to be up to date with the latest information in the field and can be found brushing up on new accounting techniques and systems all year round.


Financial Accountant

The chameleon chamaele ontidate

Distinguishing marks: An enlarged knowledge of budgets and accounting systems

accountancy | job-spotting


Gorillas are the alpha males of the accounting world. They’re responsible for all the things in an organisation that accounting has an impact on, along with some hefty managerial tasks. Typically, Gorilla’s can be found around budget forecast, costing or liaising with management. It is not unusual for a Gorilla to be considered the ‘go to’ for the rest of an organisation and called on to deal with all matters relating to accounting. In larger organisations, their position as part of a management team earns them long hours but also responsibility for whole teams.

Corporate (or Management) Accountant

The Gorilla -

gorilla Distinguishing marks: Huge salaries and bags underneath the eyes

Financial Analyst

The wolf -

canis lupus Distinguishing marks: Braces, cufflinks and the outer trappings of an investment banker

Wolves make the key decisions for the rest of their pack. They have strong senses and can pick up the slightest change in the markets and advise companies on whether to buy or sell stock. It is not unusual for an analyst to spend a lot of time with another species of accountant, as being up to date with trends helps them to more accurately predict the best course of action. They frequently become specialists in a particular field. Wolves are most commonly found in investment banks and large financial firms, and moving between the professions in these areas is not rare.



real life stories | accountancy

Laura Brown studied for the Accounting and Management BA at the University of Reading. She is currently studying at Henley Business School and will join PwC on their graduate programme in September. I’ve always been very strong numerically and, having found my first year in accountancy at sixth form really enjoyable, a career in accounting really appealed to me. I decided a degree in Accounting and Management would give me a wider perspective of businesses in general and allow me to study areas outside accounting. If you’re a numbers person, I’d recommend doing an accounting and finance degree rather than accounting and management. If you’re unsure whether accounting is right for you, then the accounting and management degree course gives you a wide insight into the multiple business areas such as economics, ethics, strategy and management. I have a graduate offer for September 2011 at PwC. In July I did a six week internship at PwC in assurance. I was aware that I would need some work experience in order to apply for a graduate job and it gave me the opportunity to decide if assurance was right for me. At the end of the six week internship I was offered a graduate job in September 2011 without any additional interviews. I would recommend only applying for a couple of internships at a time to let you really focus on each application.

Astrid Brown studied Human Geography at the London School of Economics. She is now enrolled on, accountancy firm, Grant Thornton’s graduate programme. A lot of my friends were looking into accountancy so I asked them what it was about. It appealed to me as it was a further qualification and also a great way of being exposed to a variety of businesses, allowing me to gain expertise across different sectors. I’ve worked on a number of manufacturing clients, research and development companies, retail businesses, registered social landlords and also a few town councils when doing work for the government audit department, which have all been valuable experiences. One thing I hadn’t quite appreciated though was the hours you need to put in to prepare for the exams. No matter how many people tell you it’s tough, it’s something you really have to go through to understand. But, I’d add that the rewards are worth every effort it takes in preparing for them, and it’s true that what you put in is what you get out in terms of self-fulfilment and increasing your earning potential. In the next year I plan to complete my final exams and


continue with my training contract in order to time-qualify (to become a member of the ICAEW you also are required to have 450 days of technical work experience, on-top of passing the exams). Without a shadow of a doubt, the best part of the job is the people. The worst is the travel, although this was partly of my own doing at the beginning as I couldn’t drive. I think the best advice I can give is to do your research. Look into the individual firms. It’s as much about the right firm for you as it is the other way round. I chose to start my career where I did based on the people I met throughout the application process and the values that they upheld.

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With the ACA the whole world’s calling.

The ACA. QuAlified To suCCeed. At home or abroad, the ACA opens up a world of career opportunities. The ACA is a business and finance qualification from ICAEW, a world leader of the accountancy and finance profession and is highly respected in all industry sectors around the world. With the ACA you’ll be able to work in any business, accountancy practice, not-for-profit organisation and the public sector – your career choices are endless. If you’re looking for variety, opportunity, and the best preparation for a career as a business leader, choose the ACA. You’ll be guaranteed a great reception anywhere in the world.

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Nationwide Opportunities, Spring and Autumn 2011 Build a CV others envy. Our graduate training gives you breadth as well as depth of knowledge. Learn from expert practitioners, earn professional qualifications, work with great clients and experience different roles to ensure you always stand out from the crowd. We work with our clients to measure, protect and enhance what matters most to them. So if you’re serious about a career in business we don’t think anyone else could give you a better start. Students agree: we’re proud they’ve voted us number one in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers survey for the last seven years. To build real value into your CV, contact us. Visit Text ‘pwc’ to 85792 to find your nearest PwC event.*

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April 2011  

Real World Magazine April 2011

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